Women, Rites, and Ritual Objects in Premodern Japan


Women, Rites, and Ritual Objects in Premodern Japan, edited by Karen M. Gerhart, is a multidisciplinary examination of rituals featuring women, in which significant attention is paid to objects produced for and utilized in these rites as a lens through which larger cultural concerns, such as gender politics, the female body, and the materiality of the ritual objects, are explored. The ten chapters encounter women, rites, and ritual objects in many new and interactive ways and constitute a pioneering attempt to combine ritual and gendered analysis with the study of objects.
Contributors include: Anna Andreeva, Monica Bethe, Patricia Fister, Sherry Fowler, Karen M. Gerhart, Hank Glassman, Naoko Gunji, Elizabeth Morrissey, Chari Pradel, Barbara Ruch, Elizabeth Self.

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Karen M. Gerhart, Ph.D. (1992), is Professor of Japanese Art History at the University of Pittsburgh. She has published monographs and articles on Japan, including The Eyes of Power: Art and Early Tokugawa Authority (1999) and The Material Culture of Death in Medieval Japan (2009).
'Women, Rites, and Ritual Objects in Premodern Japan is an invaluable volume not just for scholars of premodern Japan but also for anyone with an interest in material culture. Whether we acknowledge this or not, it is largely through a carefully constructed symbolic order that we as human beings create and mark our places in the world and navigate our way through life and its many challenges.' - Yui Suzuki, University of Maryland, in: Monumenta Nipponica 74:1 (2019).
'a rare insight into the still largely veiled and thus lesser-known world of rites and rituals concerning women and female deities in premodern Japan.(...) serves therefore as an important pioneer in the field; hence, it is warmly recommended to all students of Japanese religions.' - Lehel Balogh, Hokkaido University, in: Religious Studies Review 45/3 (2019)
'The studies range widely in terms of source material and period; nevertheless,the volume’s clear thematic focus yields a greater degree of cohesion than one often sees in an edited volume. In fact, reading the essays together, as one would a monograph, produces a powerful effect: the chapters reflect and refract each other in subtly provocative ways, such that the entire book enacts a kind of historicist scintillation.(...) To the credit of the publisher, the format for Women, Rites, and Ritual Objects is wonderfully expansive. Ample illustrations, many in full color,provide welcome context and enable readers to follow arguments rooted in visual analysis. Overall, the book is a must-have for libraries and for the individual reader who can afford it. It is an important contribution to Japan studies in the areas of religious history, visual culture, and, of course, women’s history.' - Heather Blair, Journal of Japanese Studies 46:2 (2020)
PrefaceBarbara Ruch List of Figures and Tables List of Contributors
IntroductionKaren M. Gerhart

Part 1 Rituals Related to the Household and Childbirth

1 Women and “Moving-House” Rituals in Mid-Heian JapanKaren M. Gerhart
2 Devising Esoteric Rituals for Women: Fertility and the Demon Mother in the Gushi nintai sanshō himitsu hōshūAnna Andreeva
3 Taira no Tokushi’s Birth of Emperor AntokuNaoko Gunji

Part 2 Women and Buddhist Rituals and Icons

4 A Female Deity as the Focus of a Buddhist Ritual: Kichijō Keka at HōryūjiChari Pradel
5 The Relic and the Jewel: An Eleventh-Century Miniature Bronze Pagoda to Hold the Bones of a Young QueenHank Glassman
6 Connecting Kannon to Women Through PrintSherry Fowler

Part 3 Buddhist Women and Death Memorials

7 Commemorating Life and Death: The Memorial Culture Surrounding the Rinzai Zen Nun Mugai NyodaiPatricia Fister
8 Of Surplices and Certificates: Tracing Mugai Nyodai’s KesaMonica Bethe

Part 4 Female Patronage, Portraits, and Rituals

9 Retired Empress and Buddhist Patron: Higashisanjō-in Donates a Set of Icon Curtains in the Illustrated Legends of Ishiyamadera HandscrollElizabeth Morrissey
10 Life After Death: The Intersection of Patron and Subject in the Portrait of Jōkō-inElizabeth Self
This collaborative study will appeal to a wide audience interested in Japanese Studies, and in the specific disciplines of art history, ritual studies, religious studies, material culture, and history.